Since NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency launched the James Webb Space Telescope in December 2021, weve been treated for some of the very most extraordinary images of space (or anywhere, really) ever captured.
The large and power space telescope in addition has been busy observing new exoplanetary systemsand now, the International Astronomers Union (IAU) want some help from the general public naming 20 of these. Thats right: That is your possiblity to name a planet. Heres what things to know.
First, several clarifications. An exoplanet is really a planet that exists outside our solar system; an exoplanetary system can be an exoplanet and its own host star.
And since 1919, the IAU has been tasked with cataloging celestial objects and establishing consistent conventions for naming them (among other activities)which is why theyre holding the NameExoWorlds 2022 contest to mention 20 exoplanetary systems.
It is a group project, so before you begin thinking about names, youre likely to need to put a team together, or join one which already exists. And not simply any team: One made up of students and teachers, astronomy enthusiasts, amateurs astronomers, and exoplanetary scientists, based on the IAU. But theres no limit to the amount of individuals who can join a team.
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Once youve assembled (or joined) your dream team, its time and energy to reach work. You can find detailed instructions and rules it is possible to read to obtain all of the specifics, but heres a simple summary of what your team will have to do:
- Select a system from the 20 ExoWorlds on the list
- Conduct an astronomy outreach event linked to exoplanets
- Propose a name for the exoplanet and its own host star in your language, and offer a conclusion of the cultural context
- Register your team and submit your naming proposal (written format + video) via this form
Teams may submit one entrymeaning a set of names: One for the exoplanet and something for the host star. All proposals should be submitted by November 11, 2022. From then on, theyll be vetted and judged, and the winners will undoubtedly be announced on March 20, 2023.